The Department of Justice’s mission is “To enforce the law and defend the interests of the United States according to the law; to ensure public safety against threats foreign and domestic; to provide federal leadership in preventing and controlling crime; to seek just punishment for those guilty of unlawful behavior; and to ensure fair and impartial administration of justice for all Americans.”

That’s quite the mouthful, but it’s an important job. The department has been around for over 150 years. Its roots go back even further than that, though. Here are some interesting facts about the DOJ.

It started with a single person

The Judiciary Act of 1789, signed by President George Washington, created the Office of the Attorney General. This position was a part time, one man job originally filled by Edmund Jennings Randolph. Randolph was a supporter of the Revolution and the governor of Virginia from 1786 to 1788. After five years serving as the Attorney General from 1789 to 1794, he was appointed to the position of Secretary of State. Since then, 86 people have held the position.

The Civil War was a major factor the DOJ’s creation

The one-man Attorney General position quickly became a full time job, then added asisstants and attorneys hired on an as-needed basis. In the wake of the Civil War, increased litigation (including defending black voters from the violence of Ku Klux Klan) led to the creation of the Department of Justice. The Department of Justice officially came into being on July 1, 1870.

It’s the biggest law firm in the world

With over 113,000 employees, field offices in all states and territories, and divisions in over 100 countries in the world, the DOJ is the world’s largest legal employer. It has a budget of $35.3 billion for 2022.

It’s over several other departments

While it does employ over 10,000 attorneys, not everyone who works for the DOJ is a lawyer. Under the umbrella of the Department of Justice are the Federal Bureau of Investigations; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the U.S. Marshalls Service; and the Environment and Natural Resources Division, among others.

The Department of Justice has a long and storied past. And while it has grown exponentially since the original part-time Attorney General took office, the Department plays a critical role in defending the civil rights of all Americans.

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Brynn Mahnke is a freelance writer specializing in researching, writing, and ghostwriting for clients in the career, finance, SaaS, and B2B/B2C niches. She focuses on writing case studies, whitepapers, ebooks, and articles showcasing the value her clients bring to their customers. When she isn't writing, you can find her running, cycling, or wrangling children. She can be reached through her website or at